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Gavin’s Story

Gavin’s Story

In 2019, Gavin, now aged 45, was referred to our Coleraine project after his mother asked him to leave the family home – a place that he had lived for all his life - as she was unable to cope with her son’s alcohol dependency. The transition to temporary accommodation was a traumatic experience for Gavin who not only had to adjust to living in shared accommodation but also had the worries of living away from the familiarities of his hometown.

To help Gavin adjust to his new surroundings, support workers focused on helping make their client feel safe and welcomed by going through an induction process and finally matching him with his own support worker. This support worker worked with Gavin to identify needs and develop an appropriate support plan that would help the client most, which included registering him with a GP, applying for the correct benefits and accessing relevant primary care services.

As the client began to trust the team further, staff worked collaboratively with Simon Community’s Housing Solutions Team to ensure Gavin’s housing options were realistic and appropriate to his needs. In addition, Gavin also availed of the charity’s Health & Wellbeing Service alongside addiction and alcohol management services. With the support of a network of professionals, he was able to reduce his alcohol intake considerably, engage in activities and trips arranged by the project’s team and increased his social inclusion. Gradually, Gavin began re-engaging with his mother, initially by phone and then visits where he was accompanied by a member of Simon community for support. As his living skills began to improve, he engaged in the project’s cooking programme and ultimately reached a level of self-confidence that made moving to his own accommodation a realistic and sustainable option.

After two years, and a lot of commitment from Gavin to reach the point where he could live independently, in early Summer 2021, he received an offer of a one-bedroom flat in the town centre and, sad to see him leave, our Move on Coaches and support staff worked with him to help with the relocation while continuing to provide support to Gavin in the community.

Speaking about the role her team played in ending Gavin’s homelessness, Liadhan McCourt, Service Manager at Simon Community commented:

It was thanks to my dedicated team that Gavin was able to develop independent living skills and find the right treatment for his alcohol dependency while at Simon Community. With no two clients or their homelessness story ever the same, it takes a mixture of people and personalities to make a difference to the lives of people experiencing the stresses of homelessness. From providing a listening ear or helping clients apply for benefits to organising health & social activities, the role of a support worker, and how they make the job their own, is vital to each client’s journey.

Staff in Bonds Hill helping client apply for the 100 Highstreet Voucher scheme 2

Without a team of passionate and non-judgemental support workers, Gavin’s experience would not have been as successful. We’re currently recruiting for new individuals to join our charity and make a real and lasting difference to the lives of those experiencing homelessness.

At Simon Community NI we respect everyone who comes to us for help. While this story is true, our client’s name and image has been changed to protect their privacy.